ISLAMABAD ó Windstorm, heavy rain and mild tremours hit several parts of Punjab on Friday and early Saturday morning killing 37 people, mainly as a result of collapse of houses.
Lahore was the worst-hit, with 11 people, including six children, killed in the provincial capital. Seven people were killed and 60 injured in the neighbouring district of Sheikhupura. Nineteen deaths occurred in other districts of Punjab. Dozens of people sustained injuries in the storm. Packing winds of up to 93km per hour uprooted trees and cut off power supply in Lahore.
Among the victims in Lahore were four children who lost their lives in Shadbagh when a wall of a godown collapsed. All the four children, identified as Ali Raza, 5, Nadia, 5, Ashfaq, 8 and Samiya, 2, belonged to a gypsy family, which had migrated from Ravi Road to Shadbagh a day before.
The fierce storm made many highways impassable besides disrupting power supply to many areas.
According to APP seven people were killed and 60 others injured in windstorm-related incidents in and around Sheikhupura, 50km from Lahore.
Two children Farhan and Usman died in Gujranwala when the roof of their house caved in due to strong winds.
The deaths occurred as the country’s southern coastal belt was preparing for cyclone Phet to make landfall after hitting the coast of Oman on Friday.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall on Sunday near Karachi and in the nearby province of Balochistan with “maximum sustained winds of 100 to 120km per hour,” Meteorological Department said.
The storm has already started to play havoc in Balochistan, which saw 133mm of rainfall during the last 24 hours and flooding in some areas, the department reported on Saturday. Authorities are evacuating tens of thousands of people to safe areas and the country’s army and navy have been put on alert.
Phet, already weakened from earlier this week, was positioned about 200km north-east of Oman’s coastal city of Sur and 650km south-west of Karachi.
“Available observations and numerical weather prediction models guidance suggest that the system would weaken further and move east-north-eastward towards Pakistan coast,” said weathermen.